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  • » 02/24/2010, 00.00

    ISRAEL - PALESTINE

    War of words over the Cave of the Patriarchs between Netanyahu and Abbas

    Joshua Lapide

    Abbas’ reaction is “hypocritical”, Netanyahu’s decision is a “provocation”; all because the israeli PM decided to add Rachel’s Tomb and the Cave of the Patriarchs to Israel’s list of national heritage sites. Palestinians fear it is just another land grab. Jewish settlers and nationalists are happy with Netanyahu’s decision.

    Jerusalem (AsiaNews) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas have traded accusations over the former’s decision to include certain Jewish holy sites in the West Bank to its list of national heritage sites. The sites in question are Rachel’s Tomb (Bethlehem) and the Cave of the Patriarchs (Hebron), both of which are also venerated by Muslims.

    For the Palestinian leader, Netanyahu’s decision is "a serious provocation” that delays peace talks and could further poison relations between the two peoples. For Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Office, Abbas is conducting “a false and hypocritical campaign. [. . .] Rachel's Tomb and the Cave of the Patriarchs are burial sites of Israel's forefathers [. . .] and are definitely worthy of preservation and renovation."

    The Cave of the Patriarchs, which Muslims call the al-Ibrahim Mosque, is said to contain the remains of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and their wives, Sarah, Rebecca and Leah. For decades, the site has been a source of tensions. About 500 Jewish settlers live nearby, in a Palestinian city of 170,000. In 1994, a Jewish settler killed 29 Palestinian worshippers. Since then, the place has been divided into areas for each group.

    Rachel, Jacob’s favourite wife, is said to be buried at a site near Bethlehem. It too has been the source of conflict.

    Israel's West Bank barrier juts far into Bethlehem so that the tomb is located on the Israeli side, and this, for Palestinians, constitutes a land grab.

    Jewish settlers and nationalists, who oppose giving up control of any of the West Bank, said they were pleased with Mr Netanyahu's announcement and that they would press for additional biblical sites to be added to the list.

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    See also

    21/08/2010 ISRAEL - PALESTINE
    Scepticism over "direct" dialogue between Israel and Palestine
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    02/04/2010 ISRAEL – PALESTINE
    Israeli raid in Gaza injures three children as Jerusalem prepare for Easter under tight security
    Israel carries out 13 strikes overnight targeting four Hamas weapons factories. The operation is in retaliation against rocket attacks into Israel and the killing of two Israeli soldiers. Palestinian Christians complain about obstacles that prevent them from visiting the holy places. The patriarchs of the Holy Land release an Easter greetings message.

    03/01/2009 ISRAEL - PALESTINE
    Day of prayer tomorrow, for peace in Holy Land
    The observance has been called for by the churches of Jerusalem. Public demonstrations have been canceled, and only religious ceremonies remain. The custodian of the Holy Land and the Latin and Greek-Melkite patriarchs are renewing their appeal with a video message.

    21/03/2005 israel - palestine - holy land
    Holy Land towards peace or towards a Third Intifadah?

    AsiaNews correspondent gives us an analysis on the signs of hope and the ambiguities and menaces hanging on the future of the Middle East.



    16/09/2010 ISRAEL – PALESTINE
    Jewish settlements in West Bank and East Jerusalem hindering Israeli-Palestinian talks
    Mahmoud Abbas is threatening to leave negotiations if settlement activity does not stop. Freeze on new construction is set to expire in ten days. Netanyahu refuses to extend freeze, claiming security is Israel’s top priority.



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